Department Of Social Development 2018, Social Development Month aims to engage communities to identify their challenges and put together action plans to deal with these challenges.
The campaign, held in conjunction with the National Development Agency (NDA) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), also aims to inform communities of the various social security programmes available to them and how these can be accessed.
The Department of Social Development (DSD) provides social protection services and leads government’s efforts to forge partnerships through which vulnerable individuals, groups and communities become capable and active participants in the development of their societies.
The National Development Plan acknowledges that it is necessary to address the critical challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality to improve the short‐term and long‐ term prospects of current and future generations.
In its efforts to give expression to this guiding policy, the DSD aims to improve the quality of life for poor and vulnerable people, and in so doing, contributes to Priority 3 (consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services) and Priority 6 (a capable, ethical and developmental state) of government’s 2019‐2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework. The department focuses on reducing poverty and inequality; increasing access to early childhood development (ECD) services; reducing social ills and empowering individuals, families and communities; and creating a functional, efficient and integrated social development sector.
Other pieces of legislation which define the department’s mandate include the:
- Non-Profit Organisations Act of 1997 which establishes an administrative and regulatory framework within which non-profit organisations can conduct their affairs, and provides for their registration by the department.
- Older Persons Act of 2006, which establishes a framework for empowering and protecting older persons, and promoting and maintaining their status, rights, well-being, safety and security. It provides for older persons to enjoy good quality services while staying with their families in their communities for as long as possible. It also makes provision for older persons to live in residential care facilities.
- Children’s Act of 2005, which sets out principles relating to the care and protection of children, and defines parental responsibilities and rights. It deals with early childhood development (ECD), drop-in centres and early intervention, children in alternative care such as foster care, child and youth care centres and the adoption of children. The national ECD policy aims to define the provision of equitable ECD services in South Africa.
- Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act of 2008, which regulates substance abuse services and facilities.
- 1998 White Paper on Population Policy for South Africa, which aimed at promoting the sustainable development of all South Africans by integrating population issues with development planning in all spheres of government and all sectors of society.
- 2015 White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which focuses on putting in place measures that will reduce the exclusion and inequality experienced by persons with disabilities. This includes contributing towards fighting poverty among persons with disabilities and their families, and providing policy guidelines on building capacity in the public sector to deliver equitable and accessible services.
- 1997 White Paper for Social Welfare, which sets out the principles, guidelines, policies and programmes for developmental social welfare in South Africa. It provides the foundation for social welfare in the post-1994 era.
- Social Service Professions Act of 1978, which provides for the regulation of social service professionals.
- Victim Empowerment Support Services Bill, which is aimed at regulating victim support services and empowering victims.
The department is also the custodian of international human rights treaties that the country has ratified, focusing on protecting the rights of children, people with disabilities and older people. This includes coordinating the implementation of these treaties, and compiling periodic country reports.
In addressing the critical challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, over the medium term, the DSD intends to focus on deepening social assistance and extending the scope of social security; reforming the social welfare sector and its services to deliver better results and strengthening community development interventions.
This work gives expression to the National Development Plan’s vision of improving the short- and long-term prospects of current and future generations, and Outcome 13 (an inclusive and responsive social protection system) of government’s 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework.
As one of the chief departments responsible for alleviating poverty and providing assistance to vulnerable individuals and communities, the DSD implements and supports programmes focused on food relief, capacity building, and response to social distress. The department will continue to provide social assistance to eligible individuals whose income and assets fall below set thresholds through social grants administered by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).
By the end of 2019/20, an estimated 18 million beneficiaries, including elderly people, war veterans, people with disabilities and children, were receiving monthly social grants. This number is expected to increase to 18.9 million by 2022/23.
The department acknowledges that continued reliance on social assistance from the State as the only form of income is not sustainable. There is a need for the government to continue to develop and implement programmes that support the poor and vulnerable to establish their own income‐generating activities, with a specifi focus on young people and women.
The DSD seeks to build capacity in the sector by providing training to cooperatives, providing operational support to non‐profit organisations, creating work opportunities through the extended public works social sector programme, and engaging key stakeholders on establishing sustainable livelihood and employment opportunities for social grant beneficiaries.
Increasing access to ECD services
In recognising that a good foundation to learning and capacity development forms part of a long‐term solution to reducing inequality, ensuring universal access to ECD services for children aged younger than five remains a key priority for the department.
The DSD launched the Vhangasali programme that encourages ECD centres to formalise themselves by registering with the department. Vhangasali is a Xitsonga phrase meaning, “Do Not Leave Them Behind!” This initiative targeted at ensuring that informal and unregistered ECDs are not left behind. In being formalised, ECDs can qualify to receive government support.
Another important aspect about Vhangasali is for ECDs to share information with the department through assessment forms which can be accessed from the provincial departments.
The aim of Vhangasali is to make sure that the unregistered and partially registered ECDs comply with the norms and standards and receive assistance from Government.
Reducing Social ills
Violence against women and children continues to affect the well-being of people, families and communities. Its prevalence requires a concomitant response from government, civil society organisations and broader society. The department plans to design a standardised welfare package to improve the quality of services offered and adequately respond to an increasing number of reported social problems. The package will include essential minimum psychosocial support, and norms and standards for substance abuse, violence against women and children, and other problems affecting families and communities.
Creating a functional, efficient and integrated social development sector
Whereas provincial departments, the SASSA and the National Development Agency (NDA) are mainly responsible for service delivery, the DSD has a responsibility to develop legislation and policies. The department aims to prioritise the transformation and standardisation of social welfare services by developing and coordinating overarching policies and legislative frameworks, norms and standards that promote integrated, quality‐driven, professional and accountable service delivery, with the ultimate aim of improving quality of life for poor and vulnerable people.
Social assistance and security
To alleviate the high rate of poverty in South Africa, government has institutionalised a comprehensive social protection system. This includes unconditional cash transfers, most of which are aimed at supporting poor individuals from vulnerable demographic groups, such as children, older people and people with disabilities.